Harpenden’s McKenna helps England to third place

Sarah McKenna. Picture: rugbymatters.net

Sarah McKenna. Picture: rugbymatters.net - Credit: Archant

Harpenden’s Sarah McKenna helped England Women secure a third-placed finish in round one of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix in Kazan, Russia, defeating Spain 12-7 in the play-off match.

McKenna, who plays her club rugby for Saracens, kicked nine conversions and scored one try.

Simon Middleton’s side headed into day two with an unbeaten record after wins over Germany, Wales and the Netherlands in the pool stages on Saturday. England then took on Ireland in a big quarter-final clash with the latter still chasing an Olympic qualification spot. England were too strong for the Irish though, running out 17-14 winners thanks to tries from McKenna, Vicky Fleetwood and Alexandra Matthews.

England then faced France in the semi-finals, another side also looking to secure Olympic Sevens qualification through the two-leg Grand Prix. France, who finished sixth in the Sevens World Series this season, had the upper hand this time and inflicted a 34-7 win over England, with the Three Lions’ only try coming from Fleetwood.

That loss pitted England against Spain in the third place play-off match and Middleton’s bounced back to winning ways with a 12-7 victory thanks to scores from skipper Abigail Chamberlain and Emily Scott.

The head coach said: “We are really pleased with a third place finish. We have also learned a lot about these players. We came here with a squad who have never played sevens together before, and who have had very little training time together, and we defeated some good sides.

“France was a step too far though, but we were playing against a full World Series side. Overall, we are pleased with the result.”

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England now travel to France for the second and final round of the Rugby Europe Sevens Grand Prix on June 20-21.

England Sevens

Claire Allan (Richmond)

Francesca Matthews (Richmond)

Lydia Thompson (Worcester)

Alexandra Matthews (Richmond)

Rachael Burford (Thurrock)

Sarah McKenna (Saracens)

Abigail Chamberlain (Richmond)

Abbie Brown (Bristol)

Leanne Riley (Saracens)

Emily Scott (Thurrock)

Heather Fisher (Thurrock)

Victoria Fleetwood (Lichfield)